"Cosmetics makers with roots in Finland, Iceland and Russia are already producing a host of items that use antioxidant-rich northern plants and berries. One Alaska company, Arxotica, is looking to do the same thing here. It will be the first large-scale, high-end commercial effort of its kind.
-- started by Bethel-grown triplets Amy Sparck Dobmeier, Michelle Sparck and Cika Sparck -- should be shipping its first bottle of signature crowberry-based serum, Quyung-lii (pronounced: kia-oong-lee), any day. Quyung-Lii means "the potent one" in Cup'ik. Each bottle, a three-to-five-month supply, retails for $300.
They have $10,000 worth of orders to fill, and another stack to send to beauty editors in New York. After that, it's back to Bethel to gather more plants. Their ingredients are wild grown and they hope to employ pickers in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to feed the demand. Other products in their high-end line -- cleanser, toner and lotion -- should be coming out in the next three to five months, depending on how fast they can raise the capital.
Arxotica started as an idea in 2000 or so, when Michelle started researching Arctic plants. Arctic sage and crowberry have long been gathered and used by Alaska Natives, she said. Crowberries are eaten in akutaq, or Eskimo ice cream. Arctic sage, known as chiaggluk, is medicinal, used to ease pain and inflammation. Fireweed has astringent and anti-inflammatory qualities. It is also high in vitamins A and C.
"All our lives, we had to gather these things," Michelle said. "We started thinking, 'If it's good for us like this, how else could it be used?'""
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Julia O'Malley: Bethel triplets, tundra botanicals, a skin care start-up
(The Anchorage Daily News 3/30)
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